Newborn Baby: The First 4 Weeks

Welcome to motherhood and parenthood! Along with the joy and excitement a newborn brings, you might be feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, too — and we're here to help! We’ll take a look at your baby’s development milestones from birth to 1 month; discuss how often and how long your baby may feed and sleep this month; and review important information about your newborn baby’s health. Your baby’s healthcare provider is the expert on healthy development, but we’ll touch on some of the highlights and provide some useful tips. Let's dive right in to this first month, which covers your baby’s weeks one, two, three, and four!

Baby Development Milestones

In weeks one to four after your baby’s birth, he’s getting used to life outside the womb. You may be amazed by all the growth and changes you're seeing! Here are some highlights:

Growth and Physical Development: It’s Normal for a Newborn to Look a Little “Odd”

In the first few days after birth babies can lose a little weight — this is mostly excess body fluid. Most babies will regain the weight quickly, so that by day 10, they’re back to their birth weight. Your healthcare provider will track your baby's growth carefully, measuring his length, weight, and head circumference (the distance around the head) at each checkup. Over time, your provider will use these measurements to gauge trends in your baby's rate of growth. Read more about how your provider uses baby growth charts.

You’ll be spending lots of time looking at your new baby, and although you’ll love every inch of him, you might find he looks a little “funny” at first. He’s just entered the world, and his body is still adjusting. These are some of the unusual physical features you might notice in the first few weeks:

  • Fine hair called lanugo may cover his body for a few days or weeks it is shed.
  • His skin may peel a little.
  • Reddened areas of skin called salmon patches or “stork bites” may appear on his face or neck; these will likely disappear within a few months.
  • Your baby’s genitals may be swollen, but will return to normal soon.
  • Two soft spots, called the fontanelles, can be felt at the top of your baby’s head. Although a thick membrane protects the brain, this is where the skull bones are still fusing together.
  • If your baby was born vaginally, he may have an elongated skull. This happens because the plates of the skull adjust to allow an easier passage through the birth canal. Your baby’s head will return to a more normal shape soon enough.
  • Your baby may spend a fair bit of time curled up in a tight little bundle — just as he was in the womb. Toward the end of this first month, he’ll start to stretch and unfold from this preferred fetal position.

Senses: Your Baby Loves to Be Held by You

For your newborn, one of the most important senses is touch, and he’ll sense your mood by the way he’s being touched. Being held and carried by you provides security and comfort. Be sure to always support your baby's head and neck, so that his head doesn't flop from side to side or front to back. Gently rocking him may help quiet and calm him, and massaging your little one may help you bond. Watch this short video guide on massaging your newborn for more on this topic.

Typically, babies can only see about 8 to 12 inches away, but this means your baby can see your face as you hold him. His own hands will also interest him as they pass by in front of him. At this stage, he can tell light from dark, but he can't see the full range of colors.

Newborn babies typically prefer to hear high-pitched sounds and “baby talk.” As you talk to him, he’ll probably turn his head to face you.

Movement: Your Baby’s Instincts Are as Strong as His Grip

In the first few weeks, your baby’s movements may seem very jerky, but in the coming months, they’ll slowly become more controlled. Here are some of the common reflexes newborns have at birth:

  • Your baby will turn his head toward your finger in response to his cheek or mouth being stroked.
  • Your baby can instinctively suck, but coordinating sucking, breathing, and swallowing requires quite a bit of skill, so it may take a short while for your baby to get the hang of it when nursing.
  • Moro reflex. If your baby is startled by a noise, or his head shifts position suddenly, he may react by extending his arms and legs suddenly and then bringing them close together.
  • Strong grip. If you touch your baby’s palm, he will grip your finger. Don’t support him using this hold, as your baby has no control over this grip and may let go suddenly.
  • When holding your baby in a standing position with the soles of his feet touching a surface, you may notice him do a stepping motion.

Personality: You’ll Never Forget That First Real Smile

At the start of this month, you might see your baby smile in his sleep. Experts aren’t quite sure why reflexive smiles happen, but it could be because your baby is responding to an internal impulse. Toward the end of this month or in the second month, you will start to see the real deal. This is when he smiles when he is awake in response to something like your face as you smile at him or the sound of your voice. Over time, he will learn that smiling is a way for him to communicate.

Newborns cry to communicate things like hunger or discomfort, or to release tension. If your baby is crying but doesn’t need feeding, burping, or diaper changing, he may just need a little attention. Try comforting him by cuddling him or soothing him with your voice, as these might just work to settle him. In some cases, persistent crying could indicate a problem, so if you're worried consult your baby’s healthcare provider to check that everything is OK.

Even in these first few days and weeks you may get early hints about his personality. Does he cry about a wet diaper, or seem perfectly content? Is he easily startled, or does he take things in stride? If you have older children, you may even start noticing differences in your baby's and his older siblings' temperaments at this early stage.

How to Support Your Baby’s Development

Your baby’s pediatrician will be able to give you lots of personalized advice, but these are some things you can try:

  • Skin-to-skin contact. This is when your naked baby is placed against your uncovered chest. It’s good to practice this “kangaroo care” from right after your baby is born and during his first few months. The benefits of skin-to-skin contact include improved bonding between you and your baby, and helping to regulate his breathing and heart rate.
  • Tummy time. Put your baby on his tummy on the floor for a short time each day to help strengthen his neck and shoulders, as you closely supervise. Read more about tummy time.
  • Tracking practice. As your baby’s vision develops, he’ll slowly become better at following moving objects with his eyes. To help him practice, try moving an object — like a rattle — slowly in front of him.

Feeding Your Newborn Baby: How Much Does a 1-, 2-, 3-, or 4-Week-Old Baby Eat?

The good news is that you won’t need to set a rigid feeding schedule. Instead, watch for your baby’s hunger signals to get to know what’s normal for him. This month, your baby may show hunger by rooting (see the reflexes above), lip smacking, or sucking on his fist. Crying can also be a sign of hunger, but it’s better to feed your baby before he gets to this stage, rather than waiting until he’s really upset. You'll likely feed your baby at least eight times in each 24-hour period, both during the day and night. During growth spurts — which occur at different times for different babies, but often at the end of week two and between week three and six — your baby may be hungrier than usual. When he’s full, he may look tired or fall asleep. If you’re breastfeeding and are concerned about your milk supply, or whether your baby is latching or nursing properly, ask your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for help. You can also check out this go-to breastfeeding guide we’ve created just for you!

Does Your Baby Need Dietary Supplements?

Regardless of whether your baby is breastfed, formula-fed, or a combination of both, you may want to speak to your baby's healthcare provider about whether you should supplement your baby’s nutrition. For example, vitamin D and iron supplements may be advised until your baby turns 12 months old.

Tracking Wet and Dirty Diapers

It’s natural to wonder whether your baby is getting enough to eat. One way to check is to keep track of diaper changes — how many you change, and how they look. In the first few days, don’t be surprised if your baby’s poops are thick and dark green or black — these are your baby’s normal first bowel movements, made up of meconium. After this meconium has passed, his stools will switch to a yellow-green color, and become softer and runnier. Each baby is different, but you can probably expect at least six wet diapers and at least three or four poopy diapers a day.

Other signs your baby is eating enough include if you can hear your baby swallow, and if he seems content for a few hours after nursing. Over a longer period of time, your baby’s healthcare provider will help check your baby is getting enough nourishment by monitoring his growth.

Although those first few diaper changes can be challenging, you’ll soon be a pro! In fact, you’ll be changing so many diapers you’ll may feel you deserve a prize. Well, you do! Download the Pampers Club app and turn diapers and wipes into fun toys for your baby, lovely treats for you, or useful coupons to put toward your next Pampers purchase.

How Much Sleep Does a Newborn Baby Need?

In the first few weeks, your baby will likely sleep about 16 hours of each 24-hour period, in blocks of about three or four naps. Because your newborn’s stomach can only hold so much milk, you’ll need to wake him for feeds during the night if he doesn’t wake naturally. Although your baby doesn’t know the difference between day and night yet, start teaching him by keeping night-time feeds low-key. Don’t turn on bright lights, keep diaper changes brief, and instead of playing, put him right back to sleep on his back.

Safe Sleep

For the first year of your baby's life, always put your baby to sleep on his back in his crib. Also, keep the crib bare of clutter like loose sheets, blankets, bumper pads, pillows, and toys, and put the crib in your room. These crucial steps help reduce the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, which is the unexplained death of a healthy baby in the first year of life. Read more about how to prevent SIDS and keep the ABCs of safe sleep in mind. Your baby should always sleep:

  • on his BACK
  • in a CRIB.

A Day in the Life of Your Baby

Although a routine involving a newborn baby can’t be set in stone, here is an example of a daily routine for feeding, sleeping, bathing, and play:


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